The first Saphara College team since 2019 began their India experience with a wonderful day in Delhi. Clothes shopping was followed by a relaxing and inspiring visit to the Gandhi Museum and a warm welcome from the Irish Ambassador.
Teaching at Sneha Day 1 – Karen
Today we travelled in style to Sneha school in vikrams. This was a thrilling and energizing experience for everyone, hyping us up for teaching. We arrived just in time for assembly; we were in awe as the children stood in front of us, singing their national anthem beautifully.
When assembly was over, we gathered in the staff room and met the school principal – Rachel. We were touched by her warm welcome and how proud she was of the children.
Then it was time for us to get stuck in with our first lesson.
Our lessons were based on the story ‘We are going on a Bear Hunt.’ We read the story, learnt a new song and made some binoculars out of toilet roll tubes.
My highlight of the day was seeing the excitement on the faces of the Class 2 children when we sang our new song together and acted it out with our binoculars.
Teaching at Sneha Day 2 – Niamh
After our amazing experience of Sneha on our first day, we came back feeling excited, confident and ecstatic about teaching again. I couldn’t wait to see the children again. It seemed like the time moved really slowly until we saw them.
Again, we watched the assembly and we all felt very moved and inspired by the words of affirmation read out at assembly. The children sang ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ and we joined in with the actions. Even though this was our second time seeing the assembly, it felt just as special and left us all feeling in awe at the children and the teachers. We then got together in the staffroom and prepared for our lessons for the day. Myself, Molly-Mabs and Laura are with class 1 A and B and we are teaching the children through the big book ‘Monkey Puzzle’. My lesson today was all about sequencing the story using exact pictures from the book. I was so surprised at how quickly the children were able to do this and how efficient they were with ordinal numbers. The children then wrote the animal names in English and then in Hindi. The teacher was very impressed by this. I told the children that I thought they were so intelligent and their faces lit up. This melted my heart because all they need is that encouragement and to feel loved and valued.
When we all met again after the lessons, although we were tired, the enthusiasm and excitement was still there and you could tell straight away that everyone’s confidence was growing and relationships were starting to form with the children. We then travelled to Mussoorie and I think the main thing we noticed was the temperature! As we are so high up, the temperature is not as high as it was when we were in Dehradun, but the views that we saw certainly made up for it.
Activity Day at Kaplani High School – Shane and Alexandra
‘Perfect’ has been the word of the trip and today has definitely lived up to the word ‘perfect’. With a grand lie in of a whole 30 minutes and a breakfast washed down by a glass of chai tea overlooking the Himalayas, we set off to Kaplani High School for another day of teaching.
We headed through the winding hills at an altitude of nearly 7000m, dodging every motorcycle, person and cow in sight. Arriving at Kaplani we were greeted with smiling faces and thin air while assembly commenced. We enjoyed the singing and even some general knowledge, leaving us astonished with how the children’s voices carried through the mountains.
The children headed to their first class as we prepared for a fun-filled day ahead. We provided the children with the opportunity to participate in a range of activities including Gaelic football, parachute games, art, music and dance. Although never playing the sport before, the children quickly put their cricket catching skills to good use and were catching the Gaelic balls like a pro.
After our action-packed day we set off back to Mussoorie, where we had a well-deserved caffeine hit and ‘friendly’ game of connect 4. While in Mussoorie we explored the local shops, including the Saphara renowned Kashmiri scarf shop, before heading back to the Hotel Himalaya Club for some dinner and practice for the assembly at SNEHA on Friday. Safe to say we have all chosen the correct career path after seeing the moves on show. An early night was had so we would be refreshed for our trek to Patrani in the morning.
Trekking to Patrani – Emily and Roise
After a lovely lie in and breakfast on the balcony with our gorgeous view, we got the suncream on and headed off to the Kaplani area. On the journey we took in the breathtaking mountains including the startling snowy peaks of the high Himalayas.
At our starting point we were a little shocked when seeing what we were embarking upon, but this was quickly put into perspective when we realised that many of the Kaplani children do this walk (or double this) every morning on their way to school.
On our descent we took thousands of photos as we chatted to Surrender and Reeta (the Kaplani English teacher), who were a wealth of information about the local area. On arrival in Patrani, a small area of several dwellings, we got to see where some of the children we taught yesterday live – it was so interesting to see these houses and lifestyle, including meeting some buffalo!
After a quick refueling pit stop, trying some Indian oranges and drinking lots of water, we then began the return journey back up the steep and windy path – this was not easy for any of us! We cheered when we knew the end was in sight and celebrated with a bag of Lays from the roadside shop.
We returned to Mussoorie for a quick lunch before jumping back into the taxis, returning to Dehradun late afternoon. We dropped off our bags and headed to Salt and Cravings for our dinner – this was made even more exciting with the renovations, powercut, and running back to the hotel in torrential rain, thunder and lightning! Not quite what we had dressed for!!
We had a not so quick practice for assembly tomorrow on the landing (sorry to anyone in Floor 2 of the Hotel) before heading to bed ready for an early start in the morning for teaching in Sneha.
Back at SNEHA – Laura and Clodagh
We were woken up by the sound of rain battering our bedroom windows. Unfortunately, this meant that our long-awaited assembly was cancelled. Everyone was quiet during breakfast as no one could believe we were going to miss out on completing our beautiful performances.
When we arrived in school, the rain was dancing off the playground which added to our dull moods. When it came to our first teaching period of the day we realised how disruptive the adverse weather had been to the pupils in SNEHA. Most year groups had been placed in the one classroom as so few pupils had turned up for school. This meant we had to think on our feet, as we originally had only one lesson planned for that day. Most classrooms were buzzing in the afternoon with impromptu songs and dances.
Fortunately the rain didn’t stop us from learning some Rangoli art from Class 8 during a free period.
After school, we got the wonderful opportunity to speak with Dr Reeta. She told us all about her story and the history of SNEHA School and the local community, which was truly inspiring and left us all with much to think about. We were privileged to experience the ‘Girl Champions’ program and hear some of the things the girls involved had been learning about. We were left truly in awe of the girls and their confidence and resilience in all circumstances, which they had been developing through the programme. We also got to meet the ‘Girl Champion’ master trainers, who were equally inspiring and strong.
Once the session was over, we got to see the women’s empowerment programme, which enables women from the local community to be trained in different skills such as sewing. We got to see some of the beautiful garments these women had made and some of us even invested in a few gorgeous tote bags! Another training opportunity available is henna, which some of the older girls from SNEHA paid us a visit to demonstrate. We were amazed by all the unique and intricate designs- safe to say we will all be staring at our hands for the forseeable future!
After school we had a quick dinner in the hotel and headed to bed for a much needed early night, ready for our last day of teaching in the morning.
Final day Teaching at SNEHA – Molly Mabs and Grace
This morning we woke up to the sun shining through our windows and the news that assembly was back on! We headed to school in the vikrams and were greeted by the whole school patiently awaiting our arrival in the stadium. Assembly began with everyone joining in song and prayer, followed by a traditional dance and a super cute performance by the early years pupils. We had to then attempt to follow this with our own unique rendition of ‘My light house’- It is safe to say the SNEHA pupils outshone us!
Next, we all headed to our final lessons with the pupils which was both a very emotional and rewarding time. The pupils gifted us with beautiful handmade cards and mementos that we will each treasure forever. There was then an opportunity to say our goodbyes and take some fun class selfies which the pupils enjoyed thoroughly. The older pupils in SNEHA challenged us to a game of kabaddi which was very competitive but we managed to hold our own and win a whole 2 points – clearly we need a lot more practice.
We left SNEHA for the final time in the vikrams and returned to the hotel for a quick lunch and rest before we made our way to the train station. We bought some snacks and got ourselves cosy for the 6 hour train journey back to Delhi. Along the way we enjoyed several naps, pot noodles with the help of Paula’s trusty travel kettle and a lot of laughs.
Eventually, we made it to Delhi at 11pm and checked into our final hotel of the trip. We went swiftly to our rooms, stopping firstly for the wifi password (priorities), then got quick showers, repacked our bags and jumped into bed eagerly to ensure we would be ready for a very exciting finale at the Taj Mahal.